Zoo Manners

When you travel like we do, there are certain sights that draw you in every city. For me, personally, it’s the zoos and animal parks.

Each of these facilities is responsible for maintaining the health and welfare of creatures not native to area, and often not even native to north America. In order to do so effectively, they must maintain stringent care practices both behind the scenes and in the public areas. Most will have a pamphlet available outlining rules specific to the establishment along with a map of the grounds. Some things, however, should be common sense.

Please mind your zoo manners.

Help the zoo care for it’s residents.

Do not feed the animals. They are on specialized, controlled diets and things like popcorn or bread crusts could cause them to become sick.

Do not throw things into the enclosures. Even if the animals throw things at you. Straws, napkins, branches, rocks, and other small items might be fun for you, but they can cause serious injury to zoo residents.

Zoos are most often landscaped. Help keep them beautiful by refraining form climbing the trees, walking through the landscaping plants, or picking the flowers.

Unless there is provision for service animals, please do not bring your pets to the zoo. The animals at the zoo are used to smelling one another, being confined in such a way that predators are kept away from prey. The introduction of a predatory animal (cats, dogs, etc) can upset the residents and cause extreme stress. Even a “harmless” little purse dog can cause a lot of harm. Please leave all pets at home for your zoo visit.

The barricades and fences present in the park are for the protection of both the residents and the visitors. Please stay on your side of these barriers.

The animals are allowed to run around naked. All visitors should remain clothed, however, including shirts and shoes.

Smoking is generally prohibited in animal parks of all kinds. Vaping may also be discouraged. In both cases the byproducts of the activity can be harmful to the resident animals. Most, if not all zoos offer specific locations for smoking, such as outside the front or back gates.

Skates, skateboards, bicycles, roller blades, roller skates, and roller shoes are generally prohibited within zoo grounds. These items can be hazardous in crowds, and make sounds the residents are unused to.

CD players and radios are also not allowed in most zoos for similar reasons.

Glass containers and inflatable objects are generally prohibited not only for the safety of the animals, but the visitors as well. Broken glass can hide in grass and other landscaping, in odd corners, beneath benches and so on, waiting for a chance to slice an unwary hand or foot. Inflatables can pop, leaving bits to clog drains and choke curious animals.

If someone is acting inappropriately or dangerously, report them to a zoo official or docent. for your protection and that of the people around you, the animals and the park itself, such individuals may be escorted from the grounds.

Photography is allowed in most facilities, but unless you have permission, it is asked that the photos be for personal not commercial use.

As I mentioned, most of this should be common sense, however common sense isn’t so common as it might once have been.

Following these guidelines when visiting animal parks will help to maintain safety and make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

— Ann Cathey

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